March 6 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Adam Renton, Fernando Alfonso III, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:19 p.m. ET, March 6, 2020
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2:51 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Chef José Andrés cooked meals for passengers quarantined on the Princess Diamond cruise ship

Chef José Andrés
Chef José Andrés CNN

Chef José Andrés, whose World Central Kitchen fed those aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, spoke at CNN's ongoing town hall about what it was like on board.

"If you are in a place, a hotel, a cruise ship, where everybody may be infected, it's logical to say that you want to make sure in this case food is prepared outside," Andrés said.

Here's how they got it done: First, they cooked meals outside the ship in an onshore location. "We got a lot of help from different Japanese chefs," Andrés said. Then, they brought the food to kitchens near the ship. "We will reheat the food and put it back and bring it in with a forklift. And then inside, they will take care of distribution," he said.

"Everything was done, I would say, in a very professional way to make sure that everybody will be safe, achieving what we wanted, feed everybody in a healthy way," Andrés added.

This isn't the first time Andrés has cooked in disaster scenarios: He also helped cook meals for those affected in the Bahamas during Hurricane Dorian, as well as Americans after as Hurricane MariaHurricane Florence, and the California wildfires.

2:51 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Are travel restrictions still effective now that the virus has gone global?


One audience member at CNN's town hall asked: now that the virus has gone global, having reached every continent, except Antarctica, are travel restrictions still effective?

CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman weighed in from Milan, Italy, where towns and cities have been placed under lockdown in the country's northern Lombardy region.

Italy under lockdown: The police and army have set up roadblocks in "Red Zones," and are checking everyone going in or out, Wedeman said. Most residents in the area aren't allowed to leave at all.

"The whole idea is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus because that's where the outbreak was first concentrated," he said. "What we've seen in this part of Italy is that despite these containment areas, these Red Zones, the virus has spread to other areas, so the government is considering creating new Red Zones."

"Now, the Red Zones that were set up are due to, at least in theory, they should come to an end this coming Sunday. There's a question of whether they will be extended. And therefore there's a big debate here in Italy whether they have been effective at all because the numbers, frankly, continue to rise."

Numbers are spiking despite the lockdown: When Wedeman arrived in Italy 10 days ago, there were 322 infected cases nationwide. Now, the number has reached 3,858. 

2:51 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Here are a few of your town hall questions, answered

CNN's coronavirus town hall is now answering questions from the audience and from our viewers at home.

Here are a few of their questions answered:

Does the coronavirus change or mutate? Could it affect a person more than once?

"This coronavirus likely jumped from animals to humans. In order for that to do that it mutated at some point," said CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

"As it spreads through humans it continues to mutate somewhat. We know, for example, this patient in Washington, the first patient diagnosed in this country, they looked at the genome and they tried to match it to subs subsequent infections, and there was a lot of similarities, but the virus continues to mutate."

As for the repeat infection — we don't know yet for sure. There have been reports of people being infected more than once, but it's unclear whether this is a testing issue.

An elementary school teacher asked: What should teachers be doing in their classrooms to protect themselves and their students?

The virus doesn't appear to be affecting children as heavily. In China, the hardest-hit country, less than 1% of cases were children.

But preventative measures can include wiping down surfaces and disinfecting commonly touched objects, as the virus can survive on surfaces.

11:12 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

New case confirmed in Houston, bringing Texas total to 4

From CNN's Alta Spells

The Houston Health Department announced Thursday the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus in the city of Houston.

According a news release from the city, the case is a man aged between 60 and 70, with a history of international travel.

The man is experiencing mild symptoms and is in self-quarantine at home. He is part of a group of travelers to Egypt. There is no evidence of community spread.

Earlier on Thursday, officials in Harris County linked the three previous confirmed Texas cases to a group that traveled to Egypt.

2:51 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Top US health expert: "We’re going to need millions and millions and millions of tests"

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci CNN

Coronavirus screening got off to “a slow start" and there were some “missteps” with regard to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s test, but the problems have been addressed, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at CNN’s town hall tonight.

By the end of the week or the beginning of next week, the CDC should be able to get out about 75,000 additional tests. Partnering with the private sector will help get out millions more, Fauci said.

“What you’re going to see in the reasonable future is a dramatic escalation in the number of tests that are going to be available,” Fauci said. By the following week, “they could get up to a million tests out there – that’s the plan, that’s what we’re hearing.”

To get a fuller picture of the coronavirus, the US needs testing that is “much more proactive,” not just when doctors ask for it, Fauci said. This will help determine how much the disease has spread and how many cases are going undetected. 

“For that reason, we’re going to need millions and millions and millions of tests,” Fauci said. “That’s what I feel and that’s what many of my colleagues feel.”


2:50 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

"Each of us have a responsibility" in preparing for the virus, doctor says

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove CNN

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious diseases epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, has weighed in to offer advice to the public at CNN's coronavirus town hall.

"Our biggest advice right now is to be ready. We want everyone to know what they can do to protect themselves, to protect their families at an individual level," she said.

"I want to emphasize for our viewers, we can look to doctors and government officials, but it is each of us, individuals all around the world, who are literally the front lines of this," she added. "It's washing your hands, not just for yourself, it's for your fellow family members and fell low citizens. Each of us have a responsibility in this."

What she said people should be doing:

  • Wash your hands: A basic measure that goes a long way when done properly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and frequently throughout the day.
  • If you don't have access to that: Use alcohol gel or hand sanitizer.
  • Respiratory etiquette: Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue, and put it in a bin.
  • Be informed: Use reliable sources like the WHO or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Educate yourself, know what you can do, how you can protect yourself, how you can protect your family," Kerkhove said.
11:08 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020

South Korean city rejects donation from religious group linked to virus outbreak

From journalist Hyoungjoo Choi in Seoul

The government of the South Korean city of Daegu has rejected a $10.1 million donation from the Shincheonji religious group at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the East Asian country.

"What we need is not the financial donation but full cooperation for the government’s quarantine measures from Lee Man-hee, the leader of Shincheonji group, and all of his followers," Daegu city Mayor Kwon Young-jin said Friday.

Pressure has been growing on the group amid claims -- which it denies -- that Shincheonji has not been fully cooperating with officials and concealing the names of followers who might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

According to the Daegu government, there are numerous followers who tested positive for the virus but have refused to be admitted to community treatment centers. Officials also accused others of hampering quarantine measures.

2:50 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

University of Nebraska medical director: The trial for a treatment drug "shows great promise"

Dr. Mark Rupp
Dr. Mark Rupp CNN

Joining us at the town hall is Dr. Mark Rupp, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

UNMC is currently running a clinical trial of an experimental coronavirus treatment, and have a second participant enrolled in the trial. The trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"We're very pleased with the fact that we brought this trial on extremely quickly along with our colleagues at the NIH," said Rupp.

"It shows great promise. This was a drug that was developed and tested initially against Ebola virus. It was found to not be very effective against Ebola but did seem to work against some of these coronaviruses like SARS and MERS. So it really does seem to show some promise now with the treatment of Covid-19. So we're very hopeful, but it's way too early to say anything."

He urged the public not to panic: "I do agree we need to take a collective deep breath and realize this is not some existential threat against mankind. A quarter to a third of us are not going to die in the next year, like in Europe in the Middle Ages," Rupp said.

But we should still be cautious: "This is a very serious event and one that we need to take seriously and prepare for and do everything we can to blunt the spread of this pandemic," he added, warning that a worst case scenario could lead to "Millions of potential infections, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths."

2:49 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Nebraska man explains what it felt like to have coronavirus


A Nebraska man who traveled on a cruise ship that was overcome with coronavirus explained what it felt like to contract the virus tonight during CNN's town hall.

Carl Goldman contracted the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. One of the first signs of the illness was a high fever, Goldman said.

"Yeah, the common denominator seems to be a spiked, very high fever in a quick amount of time. We had been sent back from the Diamond Princess over to the states on a 747 cargo plane. When I got on the plane, I fell asleep. I was still feeling fine when we got on the plane. Fell asleep next to my wife. Two hours later, I woke up and I had a high fever, 103 plus," Goldman said.

When Goldman went to a doctor aboard the ship, the doctor told the Omaha native that he had to be placed in a quarantine area.

"He tested me and saw that I did have the fever. Was put in a quarantine area. Flown here to Omaha, and put in the biocontainment center where I was, again, tested for the actual virus. And it came out positive. But it felt less than a common cold. I didn't have a stuffy nose. Didn't have a sore throat. The fever was high, but no body aches, no chills, no sweating that usually comes with 103 fever," Goldman said.

More on the Diamond Princess: The American-owned cruise ship was put under quarantine by Japanese for two weeks in February after a coronavirus outbreak was detected on board.

At least 705 people contracted the virus during the quarantine, four of whom have died. For a time, the ship had the largest concentration of cases outside of mainland China, where the virus is thought to have originated.